The Four Most Important Words in Workplace Communications

The Four Most Important Words in Workplace Communications

Frank Kenna III

By, Frank Kenna III on Wednesday March 02, 2016

I just ran across an article from The New York Times that I saved a few years ago (you can still find it here if interested). It was an interview with J.W. Marriott Jr., the hotel executive about decision making, and contained some good advice about workplace communications.

When asked for a piece of leadership advice for executives and managers, he replied, “The four most important words in the English language are, ‘What do you think?’ Listen to your people and learn.” He explained by saying that so many leaders do not listen well because their ego jumps in. He said that even if you know the answer - and many smart managers do much of the time - you still need to show interest in what they’re saying.

Because if they know you’re not interested, you’ve lost them. And as I’ve written about before, engaging your employees is very healthy for your organization. So follow Marriott’s advice and listen to what your people are saying… you may be surprised by some great ideas.

Or, as another famous businessman, James Cash (‘JC’) Penney once said, “The art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary to management success.”